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Ethiopian in DC

We are visiting our daughter in college in two weeks in DC and changed our cuisine to Ethiopian since we have heard good things about this cuisine in DC. We are looking for a fun, nice ambiance with really good Ethiopian cuisine. A friend mentioned Meskerem and Zeds as options. Also if you could recommend some dishes as well not to be missed. Thanks

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  1. The two best are located across the street from each other in the Little Ethiopia neighborhood.

    Queen Makeda is a true mom n pop family operation. Ignore the menu and ask for the food served family style (in bowls). Yebeg alicha(lamb curry), red lentils, greens, shiro, cabbage ,carrotts, tibs wat, either gored gored or kitfo lightly cooked (you could also get these raw, if you like tartare), just get a variety or ask for suggestions.

    Across the street is Etete, which is quite a popular retaurant. Ask for the derek tibs, the fastening food platter (a vegetarian selection) and add the fried fish on the side.

    Most other choices in DC are a few steps below these two.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      I hate to second guess your friend, but Zed's and Meskerem have been left behind. If you're in G'Town or Adams-Morgan and want Ethiopian, then sure, but you'll find better around U Street and 14th - Queen M, Etete, Dukem are prime examples.

      good kitfo raw is indeed wondrous.

      1. re: Steve

        I went to Queen Makeda again about a month ago and they seem to have shortened their menu considerably. Also, one of the veggie dishes tasted a little off...I had been wavering between Queen Makeda and Etete, but that experience sealed the decision. Etete has considerably more variety and more consistency, so that's where I'll be going from now on.

      2. If you don't have a discriminating taste and know the difference between good Tibs from bad Tibs, go to Dukem on U Street.

        1. In addition to the U Street places I would recommend you consider the 9th street places just around the corner. Two of my favorites are Sheshemene and Zenebach.

          The veggie sampler and the lamb tibs at Sheshemene are very good. Address: 1909 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.

          Zenebach, over on T St. is also excellent, but has a very small dining area. Address: 608 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001.

          1 Reply
          1. re: klaus

            didn't know - on the list.

            I'm ticky about my injeera but always open.

          2. Etete is fancier, and excellent, Queen Makeda more homey and also very good. These two, along with Dukem (where the cab drivers, many of whom are Ethiopian, often recommend) are the ones that are most often recommended. Meskerem and Zeds have both been around a long, long time, but as others have said, have been surpassed by some of the others that are in town, however, they still manage to provide a good meal. The Shaw/U Street area is Little Ethiopia and there are quite a few places there to eat. Others you might try if you are adventurous are Madjet (about the 1100 block of U) and Selam (1500 block of U).

            2 Replies
            1. re: dinwiddie

              I don't want to sound like I was dissing Z's or M's, one won't be unhappy or disappointed.

              despite my tolerance for just about anything, most injeera gives me a gassy feeling, but not the stuff found up in Shaw/U.

              Klaus and Dinwiddie - thanks for the tips. Do any of these places deliver? (lazy homebody)

              1. re: hill food

                FWIW, apparently Tyler Cowan is saying Zenebech Injera, 6th&T is his current favorite. I haven't been. http://dcist.com/2008/10/29/zenebech_...

                I think if it's your first try of Ethiopian, don't go to Meskerem (and I'm guessing Zed's, haven't been there). At least my experience with first-timers is they decide they don't like Ethiopian if that's their first taste. Better, I suspect, if you already like it and have a hankering. (Back a long time ago, I'm pretty sure Meskerem was where I first had Ethiopian, when I used to visit Adams-Morgan from out of town in the 80s. The U St area is more like what A-M was in those days.)

            2. I think that meshakerem's Diutii road house in Great Neck is a great choice. hahahaha. have fun this weekend in DC and enjoy the Ethiopian food, plus I hope that the princesses don't break the bank at Montgomery Mall.

              5 Replies
              1. re: dining with doc

                Thanks dining with doc - avoid the ethiopian food at meskerem - we loved the ambiance of sharing and sitting on the lower cushions - but the bread tasted like a sponge and we had to make an emergency stop at Rite aid on the way home in order to pick up some urgently needed zantac!!!

                1. re: mboxermd

                  ahhh -- we told you not to go there!

                  1. re: mselectra

                    Well, to be fair, injera is indeed sponge-like in texture, though it shouldn't actually TASTE like a sponge when made properly.

                    And the unique spice combinations, lentil-heavy vegetables, and ground nature of the food does do a number on people with sensitive stomachs not used to the cuisine.

                    That said, Meskerem isn't one of the better Ethiopian places in town by a long shot, but I'm not sure mboxermd wouldn't have had similar comments at Etete or Dukem.

                    1. re: DanielK

                      Good point. I just wonder if some people think they don't like Ethiopian food in general because they first tried it at the wrong place -- and since it might take getting used to, you want to start someplace good, if that makes sense.

                      1. re: mselectra

                        I completely agree with you - life is too short to eat bad Ethopian food!